The Curmudgeon


Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Father of Teeth

Text for today: II Pulp clix-clxxi

About this time the Father of Teeth came upon a dog which appeared to be chasing its tail around a puddle of black grease. Drawing closer, he discovered that the dog had opened a hole in its side and was greedily swallowing its own intestines, which made their way down its throat and into the dripping cavity to be devoured anew. Because the dog lacked table manners and did not chew before swallowing, the damage each time was negligible, and in any case there was plenty more to go round.

Grinning with all his gums, the Father of Teeth approached the feasting animal, which broke off its meal to give forth a pain-yellowed glare and a jealous growl. "Quite right," said the Father of Teeth; "the means of production and the rate of consumption are balanced almost perfectly, and in so delicately harmonised an ecology the smallest interference could lead to disaster."

Giving the dog a respectful berth, he proceeded into the town, where he was rapturously welcomed by the populace. The mayor invited him to dinner, and the Father of Teeth accepted a bowl of macerated ungulate for politeness' sake.

Over cigars, which according to the mayor were hand-rolled by the cutest children in the country, the Father of Teeth mentioned the dog and asked how long it had been so exquisitely well-adjusted. The mayor assured him solemnly that it had never been otherwise and would never change. "Its motion is perpetual," he said, "a fact which, it is true, contradicts the Seventeenth Law of Entropic Escapement, but one can hardly shut one's eyes to the evidence when the smell of blood and bowel is wafting beneath one's lids." Eminent professors, he continued, were regularly dispatched from court to study the canine miracle and attempt the application of its principles to higher forms of servant.

"Quite right," said the Father of Teeth. "A chambermaid who can chew on her own intestines would represent a considerable saving in fodder, and unlike the dog she would be able to clean up after herself."
The mayor's yellow eyes became misty with scientific zeal. "I knew you would understand," he said.
"And naturally," continued the Father of Teeth, "you would be first to open yourself to scrutiny, and offer up your offal to confound the Seventeenth Law of Entropic Escapement and all its oppressive works, as befits a servant of monarch, nation and people."
The mist in the mayor's eye abruptly cleared. "And whom do you serve?" he asked, grasping the long-pronged storping-fork with perhaps a slightly whiter knuckle than would occur in the ideal host.
"Why, just like everyone else," said the Father of Teeth, "I serve whichever of my appetites appears most deserving at the time in the eyes of my appetite for deserving causes."
"Then," said the mayor, "may I take it that you have no plans to disembowel me?"
"No plans at all," said the Father of Teeth, and left him to his fate among the laws of Entropic Escapement. Passing out of town amid the rapturous farewells of the populace, the Father of Teeth felt a twinge in his lower intestine, which he ascribed to imperfect maceration of the ungulate, and cursed the mayor's cooks for their negligence.


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